Women’s Tennis Association suspends tournaments in China over concerns about player Peng Shuai

WITHIN THE most powerful public stand in opposition to China taken via a sports activities frame, the pinnacle of the girls’s skilled tennis excursion announced Wednesday that every one Women’s Tennis Association tournaments there can be suspended because of considerations concerning the safety of Peng Shuai, a Grand Slam doubles champion who accused a former government professional of sexual attack.

Peng dropped out of public view after elevating the allegations about former vice-top-quality Zhang Gaoli in a Nov. 2 social media posting that was once quickly taken down by Chinese Language government.

“Unfortunately, the management in China has no longer addressed this very serious factor in any credible manner,” Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chairman and CEO Steve Simon wrote in an announcement disbursed by means of the excursion.

“Even As we now understand where Peng is, i have serious doubts that she is unfastened, secure, and not topic to censorship, coercion, and intimidation.”

Simon has made repeated calls for what he termed Wednesday as a “complete and clear research — without censorship” into Peng’s accusations. He mentioned the move to put a halt to the tour’s play in China, including Hong Kong, got here “with the entire improve of the WTA board of administrators.”

“In just right judgment of right and wrong, i do not see how i will ask our athletes to compete there whilst Peng Shuai isn’t allowed to communicate freely and has reputedly been stressed to contradict her allegation of sexual assault,” Simon said.

“Given the current state of affairs, i am also a great deal involved about the dangers that all of our gamers and team of workers may just face if we were to carry occasions in China in 2022.”

China is meant to be the site of several tennis tournaments subsequent yr, including the celebrated season-ending WTA Finals, that are scheduled to be held there until 2030.

The country is a source of billions of greenbacks in income for diverse sports entities based totally in other places, from the WTA (whose headquarters are in St. Petersburg, Fla.) to the NBA (run out of latest York) and the Global Olympic Committee (Lausanne, Switzerland).

WTA on ‘right facet of historical past’: Billie Jean King

“I applaud Steve Simon and the WTA management for taking a strong stand on defending human rights in China and around the world,” stated tennis legend Billie Jean King.

“The WTA has chosen to be at the proper facet of historical past in defending the rights of our players. this is yet one more the reason is, girls’s tennis is the chief in ladies’s sports.”

The U.S. Tennis Association commended Simon and the WTA, tweeting a statement that read: “this type of management is brave and what is needed to make sure the rights of all persons are protected and all voices are heard.”

International Tennis Federation spokesperson Heather Bowler said the ITF Board would meet Thursday to discuss the matter.

“The WTA has remained steadfast and true to its values for the reason that outset, and we remember their choice,” Bowler stated. “we will be able to continue to observe the placement closely.”

I applaud Steve Simon & the @WTA leadership for taking a robust stand on defending human rights in China & around the international. The WTA is on the right side of historical past in supporting our gamers.

this is one more reason why girls’s tennis is the leader in women’s sports. https://t.co/PHiU0S7Prw

—@BillieJeanKing

Beijing is about to host the Wintry Weather Olympics beginning on Feb. FOUR, and IOC President Thomas Bach mentioned on Nov. 21 that he spoke with Peng — a three-time Olympian — on a 30-minute video call. The IOC did not free up video or a transcript of the alternate and stated only that Bach suggested Peng stated she used to be neatly.

The organization said in a statement that Peng perceived to be “doing superb” and had requested privacy. The IOC didn’t provide an explanation for how the decision was arranged, although it has worked intently with the Chinese Language Olympic Committee and govt officials to organize the upcoming Olympics.

Critics have recommended that Peng would not have called the IOC if she was once in point of fact loose to speak.

The European Union mentioned Tuesday it wants China to provide “verifiable proof” that Peng — a 35-year-antique who used to be ranked No. 1 in doubles and won titles at Wimbledon and the French Open — is secure.

“Her recent public reappearance does not ease concerns approximately her protection and freedom,” an european spokesperson stated.

a bunch of Chinese businesspeople, activists and peculiar folks have disappeared in up to date years after criticizing ruling Communist Celebration figures or in crackdowns on corruption or pro-democracy and labour rights campaigns.

Women's Tennis Association suspends tournaments in China over concerns about player Peng Shuai

Gaoli is seen right through a meeting at the Nice Hall of The People in Beijing in March 2016. Chinese government have squelched nearly all on-line dialogue of sexual assault accusations made against the former top-rating government professional via Peng. (Ng Han Guan/The Associated Press)

‘i will be able to still talk out the reality’

In her considering that-got rid of put up, Peng wrote, in part: “i know that to you, vice minister Zhang Gaoli, a person of high standing and power, you have said you’re not afraid. together with your intelligence, you certainly will deny it or you may even use it towards me, you can brush aside it with out a care. even if I’m destroying myself, like throwing an egg towards a rock, or a moth flying into a flame, i can nonetheless speak out the reality approximately us.”

Considerations in regards to the censoring of her put up and her subsequent disappearance from public view grew into a furor, turning #WhereIsPengShuai into a trending topic on social media and drawing strengthen from tennis stars such as Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Martina Navratilova, and Canadian players together with Genie Bouchard, Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil.

i am devastated and surprised to listen to concerning the information of my peer, Peng Shuai. i’m hoping she is secure and found as soon as possible. This have to be investigated and we must never keep silent. Sending like to her and her family during this incredibly tricky time. #whereispengshuai pic.twitter.com/GZG3zLTSC6

—@serenawilliams

However news of the first MeToo case to succeed in the political realm in China has not been stated by way of the family media and on-line discussion of it has been highly censored.

“If robust other folks can suppress the voices of girls and sweep allegations of sexual attack below the rug, then the basis on which the WTA was once founded — equality for girls — could suffer an enormous setback,” Simon mentioned.

“i will be able to now not and cannot permit that happen to the WTA and its gamers.”

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